I had dinner with Mum and Dad last night, saw Julie briefly and then drove up to Gatwick Airport and stayed overnight at the Hilton. This mornings' 10:50 flight should have been easy.
First up though I was meeting Ella for breakfast. She was only 12-miles away attending a psychology conference. I guess I left a little late after breakfast, but the drive up to her hotel had been clear and only about 12-miles. So when I left at 8:40 I should have had plenty of time to get back to the airport and pull my usual short-term parking stunt.
However, the A25 into Reigate was blocked, I doubled back and went through the lanes, using Google Maps on my phone as a Sat Nav(useless when you are driving and need reading glasses), somewhere I missed a turn, the clock was running on as I followed a few cars in front, zig-zagging in and out of country lanes. It was now 9:10, I should have checked in 20-mins ago, I was starting to get worried.
After another 5-mins or so, I was starting to get really worried and considering stopping to work out where I was, I hadn't seen any signs for the airport or either of the major roads near the airport, the A217 and the A23. Then, right in front of me, literally 30ft away, a Virgin Airways 747 Jumbo flew over the fence to land. I was there.
I found my way to the North Terminal. Parked in short-term, legged it over to the AA check-in, as I approached I glanced up at the monitors, the only flight for Dallas was 10:15, not 10:50. Of course, since I was so late, there was no line. I apologized for being late, the woman at the desk gave me a Fasttrack pass to get through security. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had to take the hire car back first when she said please hurry, seven minutes to boarding.
Free of luggage I sprinted over to the escaltors, ran down, missed the payment machine for the parking, jumped in the car and sped off. I came to a stop, jumped out, ran to the office and paid for parking, asked if they knew where Hertz drop-off was, they said the South Terminal. I figured not, but didn't see any signs except pick-up on my way out of the airport, so I drove to the South Terminal, parked the car, confirmed with the Hertz office that was ok, but didn't wait.
I ran out, up the stairs to the main terminal, sprinted through it, on to the train, first off at the North Terminal; I arrived at Fasttrack at 10:00 for my 10:15 departure. I'd already removed phone, watch, bracelet, belt, coins and put them all into my laptop bag. So it was out with the laptop, off with the jacket and through. They stopped my bag for a search, d'oh, that would be the can of Pepsi I shoved in their when I emptied the car, as always though I laughed, made fun of my stupidity and just let the security folks do the swab search of the bag.
As is always when you are late, I had almost the furthest gate, gate-63. It was a straight out sprint. I got there at 10:08 - boarded and collapsed - memo to self, next time you change flights, remember the new flight departure time, not the old one.